Several years ago while visiting by brother’s family in Novato, California we went out to eat at one of our favorite sushi places in Old Town Novato. Unfortunately, once we got there I discovered I was not feeling well at all. Not wanting to ruin the evening I decided to stay but declined to order anything or eat. The owner of the restaurant showed great concern and volunteered to make me a bowl of Congee. I had never heard of it before, so he explained that it was a type of rice porridge that many places would serve as a soup. It was a popular Asian meal that used by people who needed to eat but did not feel they could. I tried it and fell in love with it right away. I felt better almost right away. I also discovered that it was a great meal even when I felt good. Over the years I have massaged the recipe to become more of a full, 1 bowl, meal that is just as good for lunch as it is for dinner. I have used pork, chicken, beef and a variety of seafood in it to add some more flavors and texture.
This weekend we are serving a version with shrimp, basil and mushroom. Be sure to stop in and try a cup.
Below is the basic recipe I developed…. you can add in any vegetables or proteins you like….. I hope you enjoy.
I prefer to use stock…chicken, vegetable or pork. It is great with cut up pieces of shrimp and or fish cooked into it. The best part about this recipe is that you can really make the whole thing from scratch in about 1 hour and it is perfect for use of all organic or natural products.
The recipe below is for the base…from there you can add anything in the way of chicken, pork, beef, seafood and or veggies to make it the way you want. I suggest you be sure to small dice any of the meats or veggies.
In many areas the families will serve this base super hot with side dishes of blanched veggies and / or meats that the individual family members or guests can add on their own.
1 cup rice (white long grain or brown)
6 cups water or stock
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/3 cup diced carrots (¼ inch dice)
1/3 cup diced celery
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoon Soy sauce
3 scallions/green onions, sliced thin (may sub minced shallots)
1 teaspoon Fish sauce (optional)
3 eggs (lightly mixed use only 1 yolk discard the other two)
1 ½ tablespoon Corn starch (optional)
Bring stock/water to a boil, add rice. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, then cut heat to a very low simmer (the lowest setting), cover and let cook for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, check rice to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, stir, ADD BAY LEAF and cover let cook for 5 more minutes. When done rice should be popped and mushy and there should be plenty of broth left over. (if not add more broth)
Keep heat on lowest setting and stir in garlic, ginger, salt, cumin, soy sauce, green onion, carrots, celery and fish sauce. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Then swirl in the lightly beaten eggs adding it in small quantities. The egg should cook almost immediately and cook into a stringy appearance.
Salt and pepper to taste. Remove Bay leaf before serving.
NOTE: Some people (myself included) like the broth to be a bit thicker…..almost like an egg drop soup consistency. So if you like you can take the cornstarch, mix it with 2 ounces of water and stir it into the mix after adding the eggs.
This soup/porridge can be chilled and re-heated without any problems. I really like to add mushrooms to the mix. I use shiitake or especially enjoy enoki’s.
You may cook rice ahead of time in two cups of water or broth and then let cool (or use three cups left over rice) If you pre-cook the rice you should still use 5 or 6 cups of broth.